Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe is the latest player in the roulette wheel of which playmaker is not getting the ball as much as he used to.
That may a be a sign of an ever-changing game plan from week to week, but the team's increased emphasis on running the ball means one of the more productive receiving tight ends in team history is being asked to stay in and block more.
"I've been blocking a little bit more. Of course, play-action can help that out, help out the passing game and things of that nature," Shiancoe said. "I'm just going to be the most valuable receiver I can. I'm going to keep on getting open and keep on playing my game. That's it."
Shiancoe started the season with 10 catches in the first two games, but since then he has gone through a couple of down streaks. In a three-game stretch in September and October against the Lions, Jets and Cowboys, he had a combined three catches for 35 yards.
Over the next four games, he had at least three catches in each of them, but in the last three games he has had two, three and two catches respectively.
However, he isn't complaining about it. He was happy to see the offense break out into a scoring barrage last week in a 38-14 win over the Buffalo Bills.
"I think we got a taste of some success. Everybody wants that again. We tasted that blood. We're like cannibals out there. We want more," Shiancoe said. "We want more, more, more, man. That's the way I see it. We shouldn't be afraid to just put up 40 points on people.
"Just like the Patriots do. Why not stomp somebody into the ground?"
The Vikings beat the Bills 38-14 and had a 31-7 halftime lead. The most points they scored this season prior to Sunday's win was 27 points in an overtime win against the Arizona Cardinals.
GERHART FINDING A RHYTHM
Toby Gerhart is confident he will be able to play Sunday after suffering a hamstring injury late in Sunday's win, which should help him continue to progress as a running back at the tail end of his rookie season.
"I'd say over the last couple weeks my carries keep going up. Comfortable, confident – yeah, I'd say I'm in a rhythm," he said. "Confidence-wise, it definitely helps and then physically you get a feel for the game when you get more carries. You keep that sweat going. You understand what the defense is doing and you really just feel that rhythm."
In the first 10 games of the season, Gerhart didn't have more than five carries in a game. When Adrian Peterson sprained his ankle against the Washington Redskins, Gerhart picked up the slack, carrying a career-high 22 times for 76 yards in the Vikings' first road win since Nov. 1, 2009. Last week, Gerhart had 12 carries for 54 yards as he split time with Peterson.
"What's the right amount of carries? In college I carried it anywhere from 20 to 35 times," said the rookie from Stanford. "When you get in those upper 20s, lower 30s, your legs start to die, but I think any primary ball carrier would love to have the ball at least 20 times in his hands."
Gerhart said the signing of Lorenzo Booker this week should help the team.
"He's here to help us, whatever that may be. If that be third down, he's a good route-runner, he's got good hands," Gerhart said.
THE QUARTERBACK KICK RETURNER
Joe Webb was the first quarterback in team history to return a kickoff, but after having a 30-yard return on the opening kickoff of Sunday's game, Webb pulled a hamstring while working on the punt-return team.
He played just one snap on offense as a wide receiver, earning the nickname "one-play Joe" from offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. However, special teams coordinator Brian Murphy liked what he saw of Webb while returning the kick in place of Percy Harvin, who was inactive with a migraine headache.
"(Webb) was great. He had a good week of practice. He was into it and to his credit he got up to speed in a hurry," Murphy said. "Not only in the return game, but he was in the punt return, played a different position. As it became apparent that he was going to be active, he took the bit and did a nice job of working all week.
"Based upon that one (kick return), he's got some ability. He's an explosive guy. He's got a big body and can run through contact. I think he is certainly a viable option moving forward."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Notebook: Focus on run limiting Shiancoe?
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